A surprising number of Memphians of a certain age can still remember the happy song that begins, "Mr. Bingle makes us tingle with his joy and
cheer / When he comes to town, Christmas time is near." But before you get the wrong impression of this Bingle guy, please remember that he — or it — was a cute little stuffed snowman puppet, adorned with an ice cream cone hat, holly-leaf wings, and a candy cane, who served as the holiday mascot for Lowenstein's department store.
Originally conceived by the Maison Blanche store in New Orleans and later "adopted" by Lowenstein's, Mr. Bingle had his own song, books, records, and even a TV show, co-hosted by Miss Holly. Every kid in town, it seemed, wanted a Mr. Bingle plush doll or puppet for Christmas, and sometimes Santa obliged them. But Mr. Bingle retired when Lowenstein's closed, and Memphians have had to rely on their memories of the little guy — until now.
The Memphis Potters Guild Show, held this weekend at Memphis Botanic Garden, will feature Mr. Bingle himself. Shoppers will get a chance to see one of the original puppets and other memorabilia that has been in storage for years, and guild members will create special works featuring his image. These will be offered in a silent auction, with proceeds benefiting the Harwood Center, an organization founded in 1957 that works with children who have special developmental needs.
Although we don't normally associate pottery with puppetry, it's an interesting tie-in, and really, we can't see how anyone can resist a visit with this beloved Christmas character, especially when he sings his little song, which ends like this:
"Oh, Bingle, Bingle, Bingle, Bingle, Bingle, Bingle, Bingle, Bingle, Bingle, Bingle, Bingle, Bingle. We love Mr. Bingle!"